Eric Zorn writes a regular column for the Chicago Tribune. I usually like what he write (this means I usually agree). In re: Mr. Lee, Cary-Grove High School student arrested for writing an in-class assignment, he demonstrates his full capacity to be a blithering poop-headed idiot. I'm going to decontruct his entire column.
Student arrest is no threat to free speech
Published May 1, 2007
Allow me to stick the sock of reason into the bugle on which so many are playing taps for the 1st Amendment in McHenry County.
(MG) nice metaphor Eric.
In the most chat-worthy local controversy of last week, (MG) umm, this is an opinion, which can't really be proven one way of another, but any time you see a judgment such as "most chat-worthy local controversy of last week" you are entitled to consider the writer's priorities -- for my money -- US troop deaths in Iraq are a much more "chat worthy" news topic -- prosecutors charged Cary-Grove High School senior Allen Lee, 18, with two counts of disorderly conduct based on the ominous content of his creative-writing assignment.
This provoked a national outbreak of punditry suggesting that our constitutional right of free expression lies in tatters on the steps of the courthouse in Woodstock.
(MG) umm ... Eric, care to specify which of the national pundits have made such a suggest? Besides, there are a number of "educators" (formerly teachers, back in the day when they taught -- I'd suggest that the term "indoctrinators" might be at least a worthy a characterization
Many have branded the officials' response to the words in Lee's essay as a grotesque overreaction by Orwellian rubes suffering from an "advanced form of stupidity" and "where's-the-bullet-Andy?" law enforcement skills, as one hand-wringer put it.
(MG) Well, count me among the many.
(MG) and girls too -- BOYS -- pompous butt hole Zorn uses a term of derision "boys" to belittle the view point of those who in fact DO find this a serious issue -- clearly, Zorn does not
Lee's assignment was to write whatever came to mind without censoring or editing himself. But even when a teacher waves off the customary guidelines of taste, spelling and grammar, obvious limits still apply.
(MG) "Obvious limits"? How many other essays contained reference to murder, violence, mayhem, sex? We'll probably never know. Mr. Lee operated from the assumption that his piece would not even be read. Apparently teaching a senior honors creative writing class reduces the need for the teacher to review assignments -- which is good, because that gives them more time to back brownies and krispie treats.
He couldn't have outlined a plot to assassinate the president without running afoul of the law, for instance. He couldn't have offered the teacher $1,000 to murder the principal. And, more to the point, he couldn't threaten to kill the teacher.
(MG) Read the fucking article, Zorn, you ass clown. He DIDN'T outline a plot to assassinate the president, he DIDN'T offer the teacher $1,000 to murder the principal, and he DIDN'T threaten to kill the candy-assed teacher. Sheesh, Zorn -- the man who would be Charles Krauthammer.
The prohibition against delivering such a threat is long-standing and very sensible. It has nothing to do with our cherished freedom to express unpopular political, artistic, religious, academic or other ideas, and is akin to the ban on joking about explosives at airport security or falsely reporting a fire.
(MG) But, he didn't deliver such a threat. "Don't be surprised on inspiring the first CG shooting" is not a fucking threat ... it IS however, a fucking warning. (Well, maybe the threat is in the eye of the beholder; the warning most assuredly is in the eye of the beholder."
So, the first question here becomes: Was it reasonable for the teacher to read Lee's essay as a threat to her or to students?
(MG) NO. She read it and felt INSULTED, and UNAPPRECIATED. He didn't like her fucking brownies and krispie treats. (Although he did have nice things to say about her writing. HMM ... I wonder if he had earlier asked her to share her writing .. OR if she simply stuffed it down the throats of her students ... ALSO ... Mr. Lee was highly uncomplimentary to King Shrub, commander in chief of all that is good in the world, of our American values, which include -- torture, rape, murder, mutilation of dead bodies, breaking into houses in the middle of the night, bombing innocent women and children, etc, etc, etc
Consider his concluding words, addressed directly to the teacher:
"Don't be surprised on inspiring the first [Cary-Grove] shooting."
(MG) I've considered the words. Still sounds like a fucking warning to me. Warning - you're pissing some of your studnets off.
The most harmless interpretation of these words is that they're simply a very harsh general criticism: "You're such a bad teacher that you shouldn't be surprised if, someday, you drive some student to commit a violent act against someone at our school."
(MG) That donkey-headed Zorn is willing to give credit for a most harmless interpretation ... CLEARLY demonstrates there is ambiguity. ALL good writing is ambiguous.
But another possible interpretation is much more specific: "I'm planning to bring a gun to school and kill you."
(MG) No, Zorn, you featherweight, CG shootings would be the shootings of STUDENTS -- ala Columbine, Paducah, Va Tech.
"shooting everyone then [having] sex with the dead bodies," but also it crossed his teacher's desk one tender week to the day after the shooting spree at Virginia Tech.
(MG) Couching the graphic visual in terms of a dream is a clever "tactic", one used by Rush Limbaugh and Anthrax Coulter when they call for the executions of traitors (democrats / anti-war dirty smelly hippie freak flower children) "JUST KIDDING" says the spewers of hatred towards all things "liberal" when you call them on their eliminationist rhetoric. Lee got his "Just Kidding" in early, but, Zorn won't let Lee get away with it ... the MSM lets Rush / Ann // Malkin and all the other hate/war mongers off .. hell it turns them into celebs when they preach violence to those who would oppose war
The closing is not a direct threat, but it's not unreasonable to read it as a veiled threat along the lines of "nice little store you have here; I'd hate to see anything happen to it," "you'd better watch your back" and so on.
(MG) "The closing is not a direct threat" Sheesh ... Eric, you just deconstructed your own fucking argument -- you ass clown.
(MG) "but it's not unreasonable to read it as a veiled threat" ... bull shit .. it is ENTIRELY unreasonable to read it as a veiled threat .... Zorn doing the proximity in time thing ... cause -- Va Tech -- effect ... Lee wants to make a threat.
So the second question here becomes: Did Lee intend to convey such a threat to the teacher?
(MG) Clearly -- NO. Mr Lee is a VERY bright young man. I am quite sure that had he any intentions of doing harm to his teacher, he would NOT have threatened her in the first place. No reason to give warning, to display your hand in advance.
He has said no. He has said his rant was part fiction, part commentary and part literary pastiche that he didn't intend literally or seriously. He wasn't trying to throw a hellacious scare into his teacher.
(MG) Okay. Sounds like Zornie-pornie might actually have interviewed Lee ... or read the statements attributed to him in the Tribune (which, trust me, are NOT necessarily the same things)
Maybe he wasn't. Or maybe he's just saying that now that he's been busted. I don't know. I don't know Lee, and I don't know the ups and downs of his relationship with this or other teachers.
(MG) If the things, boot-licky Ricky boy Eric doesn't know were grains of sand, there would not be enough deserts on the earth for them to rest upon. Eric .. you could have fucking ASKED some of the teachers, couldn't you have? I mean, wouldn't that be doing something like ... REPORTING, or INVESTIGATING .. you lazy piece of crap.
When prosecutors learn more, they may drop the charges and announce this whole episode was a huge misunderstanding based on a twitchy overreaction.
(MG) When the school board held a meeting, perhaps they had learned more, because they DID suggest the charges should be dropped. HOWEVER ... based on personal experience, the charges were brought by the McHenry County states Attorney, and it is THAT person who has the final say about wether or not the charges get cropped.
If Lee goes to trial on these misdemeanor charges, a judge or jury may find the same thing. Or not.
(MG) Idol speculation, but, at least he has covered all the bases. Nice journalistic touch, Eric. See, I'm willing to give credit where credit is due.
Either way, the issue won't be a student's right of free expression, but a teacher's right to be free from threats and intimidation. The 1st Amendment won't enter into it.
(MG) The only threat to this manifestly incompetent teacher was that she was exposed as a brownie-baking, krispie treat shucking, suck up to her students, and THAT part really had to hurt. she didn't fool Mr Lee. And her overreaction could have cost the man dearly. It is my prayer that her overreaction gets her ass tossed into fundy charter schools where she can talk about sugar and spice and all things nice with a bunch of white Christo-paths.
Play taps, now, if you will, for the idea that this story has any larger meaning.
(MG) This story has a hell of a lot larger meaning. Abuse of students by -- teachers, administrators, police, law. Adults gone wild .. but, don't expect any time soon to see Chicago Tribune headlines such as:
"When teachers cross the line"
"When High School English Department Heads cross the line"
"When High School Principals cross the line"
"When Police cross the line"
"When States attorneys cross the line"
"When Eric Zorns cross the line"
But then, we have already seen THIS Chicago Tribune headline:
"When Students cross the line"